Trailblazer plant and Tenaska Bad for Abilene Economy

By Joe Starkey | January 1, 2011

Please stop talking about the Tenaska Trailblazer plant as an economic boon to this region. Just looking at the mercury pollution from this plant shows how much it would cost us. A child living in the toxic footprint of a coal plant is 2% more likely to suffer from Autism. The cost per Autistic child to thecommunity is estimated to be $3,200,000.00 over the lifetime of that child. Those figures are part of the findings in the first study to comprehensively survey and document the costs of autism to U.S. society. Michael Ganz , Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, authored the study. An increase of only one autistic child would eat up 7 years of water income from this plant. {{more}} Current figures from Region 14 show almost 200 children being treated for Autism. A 2% increase per year over the next 50 years would mean Abilene paying for an additional 300 children with autism who would not have in the normal course of events been affected. This would cost us approximately TEN BILLION dollars over the life of theplant. In the five years of construction – those 1500 workers would fill most, if not all, of the local hotels. We could not host the events at the Civic Center or those at the Expo Center for those five years as the people would not have a place to stay. After five years of not coming to Abilene – it is highly unlikely that those events would return. We can expect planned events such as the National Cushman Club scheduled for June 2013 to cancel. They are projected to bring 1200 people to Abilene for 4 days and bring in over $650,000.00 to Abilene. You can expect the roping events that come many of the summer weeks to depart and never return. I just counted over 35 events scheduled at the Expo Center in the next six months that cannot be held if the hotels are full. Graduation weekend always sees hotels as far away as Clyde full. How can you expect a parent to send their child to a college where they can’t come visit them for the weekends? This plant would be bad economic news for Abilene. Also Tenaska proudly states that they manage the power distribution for more than 60% of the wind farms in Texas. How can it not be a major conflict of interest for them to be building a coal fired electric plant that would directly compete with those wind farms for transmission lines?Still interested in all those jobs that Tenaska is promising? You need to go to www.cvillenews.com and search for Tenaska. There you will see that Tenaska made them the same promises and then contracted outside contractors without even giving the local contractors a chance to bid on the work. Don’t believe a word anyone from Tenaska says unless they put it in writing under a forfeiture bond.Joe Starkey is a photojournalist for the West Texas Tribune. His parents’ home have their south fence as Tenaska’s north fence. His 200 acres, where he learned to fish, hunt and care for cows, is about 3 miles north of Tenaska.